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Originally Published: 1/28/2017

Inauguration:  On his first full day in office, Trump visited the CIA headquarters. Naturally he couldn’t help publicly airing his grievances, one of which is that he believes the media lied about the size of his inauguration crowd. He said, “It looked like a million, a million and a half people.” The press was comparing the size of the crowd for his inauguration to the size of the crowd during Obama’s inauguration in 2009. (Washington Post) Look at the diagram of high density areas for Obama’s 2008 inauguration, Trump’s inauguration, and the Women’s March. (NY Times) Dave Zirin, writing at The Nation, said he was at Trump’s inauguration. “It was tiny. If it wasn’t for the thousands of protesters, the day would’ve had no life at all.” On the morning after the inauguration acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds “received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him.” In a phone call “Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall . . . The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.” (Washington Post) Look at the photo comparison. What do you think? You think this is more of Trump gaslighting? And for a summary of the inauguration, watch Stephen Colbert. (You Tube)

 

Women’s March:  The Women’s March took place last Saturday. The Guardian wrote that the Women’s March “overshadowed” Trump’s first full day in office. In Washington D.C. there were more than 500,000 people on the streets. According to crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, the crowd was roughly 3 times the size of the audience at Trump’s inauguration. (NY Times) It’s been called the biggest protest in U.S. history with almost 3 million people across the country. (PoliticusUSA) The website for the march reported that there were 673 marches and an estimated total of 4,876,700 “sister marchers” worldwide, including Antarctica and Saudi Arabia. The Los Angeles Police Department estimated 500,000 in Los Angeles alone. (Time) D.C.’s subway system recorded 1,001,613 trips on Saturday, but only 570,557 on inauguration day. (Washington Post) Democracy Now! has clips from major speakers at the gathering. And if you’re really interested you can watch Democracy Now!’s 5-hour coverage of the event. 

 

First Press Conference:  White House press secretary Sean Spicer gave the first press conference of the Trump administration. Before he said anything of importance, he chastised the press - again. He accused the press of “deliberately reporting” false news. The most glaring, of course, was that the photographs of the inauguration were “intentionally framed” in such a way as to “minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.” (Washington Post) But the Washington Post fact checker gave Spicer 4 Pinocchios for false claims. You can watch Spicer’s press conference at the Guardian. But the Trumpites couldn’t let it go at that. They had to send Kellyanne Conway out to clarify matters. In answer to a question by Chuck Todd about Spicer’s “falsehoods,” Conway replied, “Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving - our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that.” This is really the video clip to watch. (Washington Post) It’s more gaslighting.

 

Voter Fraud:  Trump kept up his war on facts while trying to claim that he would have won the popular vote if it wasn’t for voter fraud. “During his first official meeting with congressional leaders, [Trump] claimed that the reason he lost the national popular vote . . . was because 3 million ‘illegals’ cast ballots for [Clinton].” Later he tweeted that he’s going to ask for a major investigation. (The Nation) Media went crazy proving Trump’s lie. The Washington Post summarized 9 major investigations that could find no evidence of a widespread problem. Of course, there are exceptions. Trump tweeted that his investigation would include those registered to vote in 2 states. Well, here they are: Trump’s daughter Tiffany, White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and his strategist Steve Bannon are all registered in 2 states. (Washington Post) Make no mistake, folks. This is all about voter suppression. Amy Goodman had a great conversation with Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, about this. (Democracy Now!)

 

State Department:  The entire senior level management staff are no longer employed. All are career Foreign Service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. “Although the diplomats were not technically fired, the Trump administration opted to remove a number of top officials in charge of the State Department’s 13 divisions responsible for policy and other matters.” (Washington Post)

 

Media War:  Trump thrives on opposition. Gotta find an enemy. He’s found it in the media. It is now the opposition party. Trump has said that he’s in a “running war” with the media and his strategist, Steve Bannon, said the media should “keep its mouth shut.” (NY Times)

 

Lawsuit:  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is filing a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments. (Guardian) The suit is based on the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution which bans payments from foreign powers. The suit alleges that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause by “allowing his hotels and other business operations to accept payments from foreign governments.” The suit seeks no monetary damages. The legal team is awesome. (NY Times)

 

Presidency Profit:  Trump’s new “organization” - the presidency - is paying off already. CNBC reported that the Trump organization is doubling the initiation fee for its Mar-a-Lago resort - the place Trump calls the “Winter White House” - to $200,000, taxes and $14,000 annual dues are not included in that amount. Buying a membership buys access to Trump. And Bloomberg reported that Trump’s hotel management company is going to triple the number of Trump-branded hotels in the country despite the fact that the Washington D.C. hotel lost $1.1 million in September and October. (Politico)

 

Mike Pompeo:  He’s been confirmed as CIA director. (Washington Post)

 

Nikki Haley:  She’s been confirmed as UN ambassador. (Washington Post)

 

James Comey:  Trump has decided to retain James Comey as FBI Director. (Reuters)

 

Jared Kushner:  The Justice Department released a formal opinion saying that Trump’s hiring of his son-in-law does not violate federal anti-nepotism law. It concluded that the president “has special hiring authority that overrides a federal law that forbids executive branch officials from employing family members.” (Washington Post)

 

Ajit Pai:  He has been named the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai “has served as a Republican member of the 5-member FCC since 2012. He’s known for his deregulatory views generally and his opposition to network neutrality in particular.” (Vox) If you remember, almost 2 years ago the FCC passed Net Neutrality. (TWW, Net Neutrality, 2/28/15) The new rules have even been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. (TWW, Net Neutrality, 6/18/16) I guess we can kiss that good-bye. But Comcast, AT&T, and ISP lobbyists are “excited” about the new chair. (ARS Technica)

 

Mike Mulvaney:  Trump’s pick for the budget director went before the Senate budget and homeland security committees this week. He defended his support of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. He also “confronted recent revelations that he neglected to pay $15,000 in taxes in connection with a household employee.” (Chicago Tribune)

 

Global Gag Rule:  Trump signed an executive order that requires non-governmental organizations (NGOs) “to agree as a condition to receiving federal funding that they ‘would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.’” (Talk Media News) Some seem to think that this is partially in retaliation for the women’s march last Saturday.

 

TPP:  Trump signed an executive order “formally ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. . . The order was largely symbolic - the deal was already essentially dead in Congress.” (Washington Post)

 

Israel:  It announced plans to build 2,500 more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, “the second such declaration since U.S. President Donald Trump took office signaling he would be less critical of such projects than his predecessor.” (Reuters)

 

Mexico:  President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled his visit with Trump amid outrage in Mexico about Trump’s plan to build a border wall and his threats to force Mexico to pay for it. He also said that the 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S. will be converted “into authentic advocates for the rights of migrants.” (Roll Call) But Trump and Nieto had a telephone conference. (Washington Post)

 

Davos:  The World Economic Forum opened in Davos, Switzerland on January 17th. “Amid growing doubts about the future of free trade and international economic cooperations, proponents of globalization found reasons for optimism.” (Washington Post) Of course the people who gathered at Davos were the elite and they listened to the Oxfam report (TWW, Inequality, 1/21/17) “over vintage wine and canapés.” (NY Times) Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May had the courage to stand up and tell them “businesses needed to address the issue of executive pay” and that “market forces alone would not ensure the spread of prosperity to all.” (Guardian) The investors and “market-movers” appeared to be perplexed “over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization.” (NY Times

 

Montana:  If you remember, about a month ago thousands of snow geese were killed “when a snowstorm forced the flocks to take refuge in the ‘acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine.” (TWW, Montana, 12/10/16) This was the Berkeley Pit in Butte. This week another 3,000 geese were killed after landing in a “toxic stew formed by a former copper mine in Butte, Montana.” According to the Guardian, this area in Butte is “the largest Superfund site in the country.” It appears that this second incident was also at the Berkeley Pit.

 

Ohio:  Federal Magistrate Judge Michael Merz of Dayton “barred the use of a 3-drug cocktail” the state planned to use to execute death-row inmates. Merz said the method is unconstitutional. He also halted the executions of 3 inmates. (Cleveland.com)

 

South Dakota:  In November voters approved a ballot measure that imposed ethics oversight and campaign finance restrictions on state government officials. But the “overwhelmingly” Republican legislature “is racing this week to set aside that new law by using its emergency powers.” (NY Times)

 

Texas on Voter ID:  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Texas appeal to revive the state’s voter ID requirements. The requirements had been struck down by a lower court (TWW, Texas, 7/23/16) which found they had a discriminatory effect. (Reuters)

 

Texas on Fetal Tissue:  U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued a temporary injunction staying state regulations “that would require abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetal tissue through burial or cremation, saying the rules impose ‘undue burdens on a woman’s right to seek a previability abortion.’” (Reuters)

 

Democracy:  The Economist Intelligence Unit compiles every year a Democracy Index that “provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and 2 territories.” Almost one-half of the world’s countries are considered to be democracies of some sort, but the number of ‘full democracies’ has declined from 20 in 2015 to 19 in 2016. The U.S. has been downgraded from a ‘full democracy’ to a ‘flawed democracy’ because of further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there.” 

 

Immigration:  Trump signed 2 executive orders to begin ramping up immigration enforcement. One order calls for the “immediate” construction of a physical wall. The other creates more detention centers, adds more federal border control agents, and withholds federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. (Talk Media News)

 

Refugees:  Trump signed an executive order suspending admission of refugees for 120 days “while a new system is put in place to tighten vetting for those from predominantly Muslim countries and give preference to religious minorities.” He wants to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and give priority to Christians. The order affects 7 countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. The order also calls for the annual admissions of refugees to be set at 50,000 from the more than 100,000 currently authorized. (Washington Post)

 

Border Wall:  Republicans plan to put up $12 to $13 billion to start building the wall. The wall is estimated to cost $25 billion or more. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that Trump is going to ask Congress to impose a 20% border tax on imports from Mexico to pay for it. (Roll Call) The next time you’re in the grocery store, look at how much produce is imported from Mexico. The cost of all of it would increase 20% - or more. Let Robert Reich explain why this tax would be a disaster. (AlterNet

 

Gag Orders:  Trump issued a memorandum “gagging” the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture from “providing updates on social media or to reporters.” He also barred them from awarding new contracts or grants to contractors. (Guardian) ProPublica obtained an email from an EPA contractor that said: “The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.” The Agriculture Department’s scientific research arm was ordered to cease publication of “outward facing” documents and news releases. The research service is “tasked with conducting research to ‘develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority.” So what’s this order about? And who sent it? “It was unclear whether the instruction came directly from the White House, from officials involved from the transition, or within the USDA.” (Washington Post) Employees are fighting back. “There are now at least 14 ‘rogue’ Twitter accounts from federal science agencies.” (Twitter)

 

Climate Change and Health:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had scheduled a major climate change conference. It had been “in the works for months, was intended as a chance for public health officials around the country to learn more about the mounting evidence of the risks to human health posed by the changing climate.” But 11 days before Trump’s inauguration, CDC officials canceled the conference, with no explanation. (Washington Post) However, the conference is now back on, thanks to former VP Al Gore. The meeting is now planned for February 16th, and will take place “outside of any government circles.” (Washington Post)

 

Pipelines:  Trump said that jobs must come before environmental concerns. So, he signed an executive order “clearing the way” for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. He said that he will approve Trans-Canada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline and Energy Transfer Partner’s application for the Dakota Access pipeline. He added a caveat, though. “He said both approvals . . . are ‘subject to terms and conditions that will be negotiated by us.’” There was also an executive order aimed at “expediting of environmental reviews and approvals of high-priority infrastructure projects.” I suppose this applies to the Environmental Impact Studies being done on the pipelines. (Roll Call) The Army Corps of Engineers has already begun looking at the environmental impact of the Dakota Access pipeline. The notice is posted on the Army Corps’ website. You can leave a comment there. The comment period ends on February 20, 2017. And TransCanada has submitted a new application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. (NPR)

 

Pipeline Rupture:  Magellan Midstream Partners, an Oklahoma company “with more than 10,000 miles of oil and ammonium pipeline, had a rupture on a pipeline in northern Iowa. So far 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel has spilled. It’s pooled in an agricultural field, “but cleanup efforts are being somewhat impacted by heavy winds and snow.” (Guardian)

 

Energy Efficiency:  White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum freezing new or pending regulations which would “appear to have the effect of sweeping up 4 very nearly finished Energy Department energy efficiency standards, affecting an array of products, including portable air conditioners and commercial boilers. The standards are designed to reduce energy use and, in the process, consumer bills and greenhouse gas emissions.” (Washington Post)

 

Federal Workers:  Trump issued an executive order freezing federal hiring. This will “affect a large swath of the government but leave wide latitude for exemptions for those working in the military, national security, and public safety.” (Washington Post)

 

Healthcare Merger:  U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates agreed with the Justice Department that a merger between Aetna and Humana would violate antitrust laws, blocking the $37 billion deal. (NY Times) If you remember, Aetna announced last August that it was reducing its participation in the Affordable Health Care exchanges from 15 states to just 4. They claimed they couldn’t make enough money. (TWW, ACA, 8/20/16) But Judge Bates, in his opinion, stated that profitability wasn’t the only concern driving this decision. Aetna also exited several markets as part of an effort to “improve its litigation position.” (Washington Post)

 

Dow:  The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 20,000 for the first time on Wednesday, “resuming a rally that began in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise election victory.” (Reuters)

 

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